"The Gun That Speaks for Itself"

 
Contact    Site Map 
 
 

 
 
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
   by Dr. Drew Hause

 

What loads were my L.C. Smith shotguns designed to shoot?

Standard loads found on L.C. Smith hang tags:

12 gauge     3 dram            1 1/4 oz. shot (1887 - about 1920)
                      3 dram            1 1/8 oz. shot (after 1920)

16 gauge     2 1/2 dram     1 oz. shot (introduced 1896)
20 gauge     2 1/4 dram     7/8 oz. shot (introduced 1907)

Until the 1920s, the heaviest North American factory loaded 10 gauge shells offered were 1 1/4 ounces of shot pushed by 4 1/4 drams equiv. of smokeless powder in a 2 7/8 inch case. The Western Cartridge Co. Super-X load Super-Ten shell with 1 5/8 ounces of shot driven by 4 3/4 drams equiv. of progressive burning smokeless powder in a 2 7/8 inch case was introduced about 1926. The Western Super-X Magnum-Ten  with 5 drams equiv. of progressive burning smokeless powder pushing 2 ounces of shot from a 3 1/2 inch case was introduced in 1932.

A 1903 UMC salesman’s catalogue shows paper 12 gauge shells available in 2 5/8, 2 3/4, 2 7/8, 3, and 3 1/4 inch lengths. In addition, 12 gauge brass shells were also offered in a 2 1/2 inch length. The longer shells were usually for more and better wadding, not a heavier shot load.

Fred Gilbert (1865-1928) was one of the world’s best known shooters of his time, using a L.C. Smith to win the DuPont World’s Pigeon Shooting Championship in 1895 and the "E. C." Inanimate Target Championship Cup in 1896. Von Lengerke & Antoine Co. marketed a Winchester 12 gauge Live Bird load with a picture of Gilbert on the box marked SPECIAL WADDING GILBERT, 3 inch, 3 1/4 Drams DuPont, and 1 1/4 Ounces (1220 fps) No. 7 T.C. shot.

 The Super-X 3 inch 12 gauge shell with 1 3/8 oz of shot and the 2 3/4 inch 3 3/4 dram equivalent 1 1/4 oz load (1330 fps) were both introduced in 1922. The 20 gauge 2 3/4 inch 1 oz Super-X also came out that year, and the 2 9/16 inch 16 gauge Super-X with 1 1/8 oz of shot was introduced in 1923. Winchester/Western brought out the 12 gauge 3 inch magnum with 1 5/8 oz of shot in 1935, the same year as the introduction of the Model 12 Heavy Duck gun.

By 1945, the Stoegers Shooters Bible listed Xpert and Xpert Super Skeet, Ranger Field, and Leader Staynless as being available in 2 5/8 inch 1 1/8 oz. loadings. By that time all Super-X, Super Speed, Leader Super Speed, and Ranger Brush loads were 2 3/4 inches with 1 1/4 oz of shot.

Prior to WWI, the standard 2 9/16” 16 gauge load was 2 1/4 drams equivalent and 7/8 ounce of shot. The heaviest 16 gauge loads listed were 2 3/4 drams equivalent and 1 ounce of shot.

The famous Widgeon Duck Club 3 inch 20 gauge shells of the pre-WWI era were loaded with 2 1/2 drams equiv. and 7/8 ounces of shot, while the heaviest load in the 2 1/2 inch 20-gauge case was only 2 1/4 drams equiv. with 7/8 ounce of shot.

Bottom Line: The necessity of keeping the “Sweet Elsie” loads within the parameters of the intended loads cannot be stressed enough. These shotguns were not designed for heavy loads (such as 3 3/4 dram equivalent and 1 1/4 oz of shot), and the use of these loads is responsible for cracking many of the somewhat delicate headstocks.